WADA Executive Committee and Foundation Board updated on ongoing non-compliant status of Russian Anti-Doping Agency


The World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) Executive Committee (ExCo) and Foundation Board (Board) met in a hybrid format – both virtually and in person – in Montreal, Canada, yesterday (17 November) and today (18 November), respectively. 

WADA is composed of a 38-member Board, which is the Agency’s highest policy-making body, and the 14-person ExCo, which is delegated by the Board to manage the running of the Agency, including the performance of activities and the administration of assets. The ExCo is composed of five representatives each from the Sport Movement, including an athlete representative, five representatives from Governments of the world and four independent members, including WADA’s President and Vice-President. In line with WADA Statutes, all Board meetings are open to members of the media.

Tribute to Frédéric Donzé

The Board meeting opened with a moment of silence in memory of former WADA Chief Operating Officer, Frédéric Donzé, who passed away on 15 August 2022 in Montreal at the age of 50, after a short illness. With 20 years of service, Mr. Donzé was a much admired and valued member of the WADA team, and his absence is being felt across the organization and the global anti-doping community.

Re-election of President and Vice-President

As announced earlier in the day, the Board unanimously re-elected the President, Witold Bańka, and Vice-President Yang Yang for a second three-year term.

The other major decisions taken by the ExCo and Board are outlined below.

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency

The ExCo and Board received an update in relation to the December 2020 decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) regarding the assertion of non-compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code (Code) on the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) for a period of two years. WADA is monitoring the progress being made by RUSADA as it seeks to satisfy the conditions of reinstatement as laid out by the CAS decision.

After the two-year period covered by the CAS award has elapsed on 17 December 2022, WADA will launch a three-phase process. First, WADA Management will carefully assess whether RUSADA has met all the conditions of reinstatement as laid out in the CAS award. Second, once WADA Management considers that all conditions have been met, it will refer the matter to the independent Compliance Review Committee (CRC) for its review. Third, following that review, if the CRC agrees with WADA Management that the conditions have been met, it will make a recommendation to the ExCo for its consideration.

WADA President Witold Bańka said: “Trust in Russia’s anti-doping system is still very low. They have a lot of work to do to rebuild that trust. RUSADA remains non-compliant. The process for reinstatement does not end on 17 December – in fact, the process only starts on that date. Through the three phases of that process, compliance will be robustly assessed. We will need to verify each and every one of the reinstatement conditions. Verify means verify – not simply accepting anyone’s word for it.

“We also continue to support the recommendation of the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee to prevent the participation of Russia on the international sporting scene.”

Meanwhile, cases resulting from WADA’s independent Intelligence and Investigation Department’s retrieval in 2019 of data and samples from the Moscow Laboratory (known as ‘Operation LIMS’) continue to proceed. It was highlighted to the ExCo that a further 28 cases had successfully resulted in convictions since last reported as at end-July. This brings the total to 166 so far, with more expected as all cases are being followed up.

Governance Reforms

Further to the final round of governance reforms adopted by the Board in May 2022, the ExCo and Board were updated on the implementation status of various elements of the reforms, in particular on the work being carried out to establish a new 20-member Athlete Council, and regarding the results of the election carried out in November to select 10 new members for WADA’s National Anti-Doping Organization (NADO) Expert Advisory Group. In addition, the Board heard from the Chair of the Independent Ethics Board on the activities conducted since its establishment in May 2022. The objective is to complete the implementation of the majority of the governance reforms by early or mid-2023, in line with the agreed timeline.

WADA Director General Olivier Niggli said: “We continue to make rapid progress on the implementation of the approved wide-ranging governance reforms. We are very pleased with that progress and how the transformations to WADA’s structure are already having a real and positive effect on our ability to deliver on our mission. We are particularly looking forward to the first meeting of the new Athlete Council next year, the full composition of which is expected to be known by the end of 2022. Putting athletes at the center of the organization was a key element of the reform process and this body will play a vital role in the governance of WADA in the years to come.”

Composition of 2023 Board, ExCo and Standing Committees

As part of the governance reforms, it was recommended to reduce the member overlap by establishing that ExCo members (with the exception of the President and Vice-President) should not be allowed to serve as Board members also. The stakeholders were accordingly asked to consider this and advise of membership changes for 2023. The majority of ExCo and Board members for 2023 were approved by the Board today, with those remaining to be confirmed by circulatory vote. The composition of these bodies in 2023 will be published in the coming weeks.

Following a rigorous process of nomination and consideration, on Thursday the ExCo approved a number of new and renewed members of each of the three Standing Committees for 2023, plus the CRC. These four 2023 Committees include a total of 35 members, with 26 countries represented from all five continents. The full list of these Committee members will be published shortly.

In line with the governance reforms, the Standing Committee structure has been modified, reducing them in number from five to three. No longer a Standing Committee, the CRC will now be considered a Permanent Special Committee, although its membership will still be approved by the ExCo. The new Athlete Council will replace the current Athlete Committee and will also be classified as a Permanent Special Committee. However, the ExCo will not assume a role in approving members of the Athlete Council.

Athletes’ Anti-Doping Ombuds

The ExCo and Board received updates from Athlete Committee Chair, Ben Sandford, on the one-year pilot project for an Athletes’ Anti-Doping Ombuds Program, as proposed by the Athlete Committee. The Ombuds Program will be a neutral service, providing confidential and informal information to athletes bound by anti-doping rules under the Code.  Mr. Sandford informed members that, following an exhaustive recruitment process launched in February that attracted more than 140 applications, WADA would soon be in a position to announce the successful candidate.  

WADA Athlete Committee

Following his update as outgoing Chair of WADA’s Athlete Committee, Ben Sandford addressed the Board for the final time. He said: “It has been an incredible honour to represent the various views of athletes of the world over the past 10 years. I believe that great strides have been made over the course of the past decade that are putting athletes at the center of WADA and giving them a meaningful role in the decision-making process. Sport is what dreams are made of. It was difficult to step away from competing, but being able to stay involved through WADA and making a tangible impact for the next generation of athletes has been nothing short of remarkable. Thank you all so much.”

Following his address, Mr. Sandford received a standing ovation from those in attendance.

President Bańka said: “On behalf of WADA and all our stakeholders, I would like to thank Ben for his invaluable contributions to the anti-doping movement over the past decade. Ben has played in integral role in furthering WADA’s mission to become more athlete-centered and has been at the forefront of numerous landmark moments for the Agency. He has worked tirelessly for athletes around the world and made a marked impact throughout his time as a member, and eventually as Chair, of WADA’s Athlete Committee. Athletes around the world have been blessed to have someone like Ben in their corner, and his impact will be felt for many years to come.”

Mr. Sandford joined the WADA Athlete Committee in 2012 and took over as Chair in 2020 for a three-year term. Notable achievements of the Committee during his time as a member include: the development of the Athletes’ Anti-Doping Rights Act; prioritizing the creation of an athletes’ human rights impact assessment; his role in the creation of WADA’s Athletes’ Anti-Doping Ombuds Program and; his work championing governance reforms to include a new level of athlete representation within all areas of WADA, including the development of the Athlete Council.

Human Rights Impact Assessment

The ExCo confirmed the appointment of Snežana Samardžić-Marković to lead an initial Human Rights Impact Assessment, a project that was proposed by the WADA Athlete Committee last year. The initial assessment will evaluate the intersection between the World Anti-Doping Program and human rights. This project will entail consultation with relevant stakeholders and close cooperation with WADA’s new Athlete Council to develop a full roadmap on how WADA will a conduct a meaningful assessment to the benefit of all athletes worldwide.

In the process of recruiting a suitable expert to lead the work, Ms. Samardžić-Marković emerged as the preferred candidate given her prominent background in human rights, experience with WADA through a role she held at the Council of Europe, knowledge of sports administration and her demonstrated ability to lead complex consultation initiatives within a governmental context.

Originally from Serbia and a former WADA Board member, Ms. Samardžić-Marković will lead internal and external consultation with WADA staff and external stakeholders, under the guidance of the Athlete Council that is currently being set up, with a provisional conclusion date of mid-2024.

Compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code

The ExCo followed the recommendations of the Agency’s independent Compliance Review Committee (CRC) to add the National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs) of Gabon and Moldova to the Code compliance ‘watchlist’.

In February 2022, WADA sent Corrective Action Reports to the Gabon and Moldova NADOs, as a result of their failure to implement the 2021 version of the Code fully within their legal systems.

In recent days, both NADOs provided draft amendments to the relevant legislation that WADA confirmed were in line with the Code, as well as a clear calendar for adoption of those amendments into their respective legal systems. On this basis, the CRC recommended their inclusion on the ‘watchlist’.

As per the International Standard for Code Compliance by Signatories, by adding the NADOs to the ‘watchlist’, the ExCo has given them four months to execute their corrective action plans. If by 17 March 2023, the non-conformities have not been corrected to the satisfaction of the CRC, the NADOs will be declared non-compliant without the need for a further decision by the ExCo.

2023 Budget

The Board adopted the 2023 WADA Budget, which had been endorsed by the Agency’s Finance and Administration Committee at its meeting in July and recommended by the ExCo at its September meeting for Board approval. The budget is USD 50,163,785 from all sources of funders. Of this, USD 47,169,586 will come from the Sport Movement and Governments of the world, representing an 8% increase as compared to 2022. This increase was approved by the Board in May 2022 as part of a three-year series of annual increases from 2023-25. 

International Standards and Technical Documents

The ExCo approved modifications to the International Standard for Results Management and the International Standard for Testing and Investigations, as well as the Technical Documents related to Dried Blood Spot analysis (TD2023DBS) and Athlete Passport Management Unit requirements and procedures (TD2023APMU). All changes, which will come into effect on 1 January 2023, will be published and clearly communicated to all stakeholders in the coming days.

Other Updates

The Board received updates from the Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations (iNADO), the International Testing Agency (ITA) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); as well as, reports from each of WADA’s departments and impact areas.

Other Decisions

In the coming days, WADA will publish more information related to decisions taken by the ExCo and Board outlined above or regarding matters that may not have been included in this media release